Technology Will Improve Our Customers’ Lives

This article originally published in Best’s Review in May 2018.

I’ve often written and spoken about how I believe that one of the most rewarding parts of being an insurance professional is seeing the good we do for the world.  From being there financially for insureds when they need it most, to enabling individuals and businesses to take on new risk by transferring some portion to us, to advocating pro-social changes, the insurance ecosystem has been essential to a functioning and thriving society.  We should embrace these characteristics of our history as we consider the rapidly changing face of technological advancements.

We often get focused on the impact these technologies may have on our portfolios and processes.  Will autonomous vehicles dry up auto premiums? How about workers compensation premiums as more jobs become automated? Will blockchains make underwriting easier? These are important questions, and they will guide many of our strategic decisions over the coming years.  But we also ought to consider how we can support technologies that improve the safety and the lives of our insureds.  Three opportunities quickly come to mind:


The use of telematics in rating insurance can no longer be considered new.  But, it seems that companies have been slow to adopt sharing of information with drivers in useful ways.  I had the chance to use two different versions recently: one would beep at me audibly if I came to a hard stop while the other simply sent me a weekly update of my driving behavior.  We know that immediate feedback is more effective at driving behavioral change, so we ought to design these programs in a manner that leverages this type of information.


Smart Homes:

As companies begin to partner with tech firms who create monitoring systems, we should consider what we’ve learned from telematics.  Can we set up a system that rewards insureds who not only install the devises but who use them consistently: those who lock their doors when they leave or perform maintenance when reminded? We should think creatively about what these rewards might be and how we can implement more regular feedback.  We can thereby provide a service that helps to prevent or mitigate claims and also improves the quality of life for these homeowners.


Medical Technology:

Property/Casualty insurance companies have a vested interest in solving the opioid crisis. Working with medical technologists and sharing information about the great financial cost and lost labor are some ways we can drive pro-social outcomes.  We ought to look for every opportunity to help medical professionals combat pain with new and better forms of treatment. Doing so will help us to reduce the severity of workers compensation claims and get individuals back to feeling healthy again.

These are only three examples of where we could partner with technologists.  There are many more we ought to explore, and even in the three listed above, there are other ways we could use these partnerships to benefit our insureds.  We often tout our influence in the adoption of seat belts and airbags, and I know many agents still do defensive driving programs for young drivers and help new parents understand their options when buying car seats.  We must recognize that young people are choosing not to drive and that auto is no longer the only sphere in which we can encourage our insureds in safe behaviors.  Technology is giving consumers more and more ability to individualize and control their experiences, and we ought to use these trends to our advantage.

Embracing technological advances and improving our ability to react quickly will not only help us inside our organizations, it will keep us relevant in the market.  Consumers will expect us to understand the way that these new technologies impact their individual level of risk. Partnering with insurtech firms and becoming committed to driving innovation within our organizations will benefit us and the communities we serve.


About Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham began her insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. She got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how she fell in love with the industry. She saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. When Carly moved to Des Moines in 2010, she decided to commit to the industry, and she completed her CPCU in one year finishing it in 2012 and attending commencement in New Orleans. She completed her MBA at Iowa State University in 2014. During this time, she and Tony founded a Gen Y Associate Resource Group at Nationwide in Des Moines. After they had both left Nationwide, Tony recruited Carly to co-author and manage She has the difficult task of keeping his constant flow of crazy ideas focused and helping to flesh them out into useful articles. Carly enjoys sharing knowledge and ideas about the future of the industry and finds the website a good outlet for this passion. Carly is involved in the the CPCU Society Underwriting Interest Group. She also writes "Next Wave" a monthly column in the "Perspectives" section of Best's Review.

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